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Rocket dreams : how the space age shaped our vision of a world beyond

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The thrill was gone after the Apollo astronauts departed the moon: the futurism of human space exploration expired and was replaced by a routine of running laps around earth in space stations. Essayist Benjamin ventures a suite of explanations for the disappointment (to space enthusiasts, at least) that play off the visions of Arthur C. Clarke, Werner von Braun, and Gerard O'Neill, which fired up so many imaginations through the 1970s. Their outward-directed attitude to discover and colonize space, she avers, is quite moribund today, succeeded by a more inward orientation that, she provocatively argues, we can blame the astronauts for. Benjamin finds that the discovering spirit occasionally reemerges with missions such as the 1997 Pathfinder landing on Mars. However, she demonstrates the weakness of that spirit by contrasting it with the strength of belief in UFOs, amusingly captured by her irreverent tour of Roswell, New Mexico. A perceptive lamentation. Gilbert TaylorCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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